7 Great Winter-Flowering Annuals
Winter’s chilly days and nights can set the stage for fantastic flowers if you choose cool-season annuals. These pretty plants are packed with flower power, opening blooms from fall through winter in warm regions. In cold zones, count on these cool-weather beauties for fall and spring plantings.
Fill your landscape with some cool-season color this winter by trying a few of these annuals. All hold their own in pots or planting beds, unless noted.
This flower’s ruffled blue blooms create carefree drifts of color perfect for planting beds. This cottage garden favorite also comes in pink and white and is ideal for bouquets. Blooms beckon butterflies; seedheads lure birds.
Plants self-sow freely. Remove spent flowers to limit self-sowing. Look for seedlings or sow seed in fall in warm zones; in cold regions, sow seed outdoors in spring 7-14 days before the last frost date.
Plant size: 12-36 inches tall, 12-18 inches wide
Where to use: Well-drained soil in full sun to light shade; plants tend to droop in too much shade
The daisy-like Calendula flowers unfurl in a variety of colors, including traditional yellow, deep orange, pastel hues and bicolor blends. Flowers may be single or double and can self-sow.
Pinch seedlings to encourage branching and more blooms. Removing spent blossoms promotes more flowers to form. Petals and leaves are edible. Add fresh or dried to salads, soups, or rice, or use blooms to garnish desserts.
Plant size: 12-24 inches tall and wide
Where to use: Fertile, well-drained soil in full sun; provide afternoon shade in hottest zones
These plants feature spikes of clove-scented flowers open in shades of pink, purple, white, lavender, red and yellow. Blooms may be single or double and beckon pollinators. Leaves are a gray-green shade.
Use plants near outdoor seating areas, walkways or entries where you can savor the rich fragrance. Snip spent flower spikes to encourage more flowers to form.
Plant size: 12-36 inches tall, 9-18 inches wide
Where to use: Consistently moist, humus soil in full sun to light shade
Dainty snapdragon-like blooms blanket these plants with strong color. Look for flowers in shades of purple, blue, yellow, white, red and many hues in between. Nemesia like soil that’s consistently moist; barely allow soil to dry out between waterings.
Many new varieties don’t need spent blossoms removed, making this a low-maintenance charmer. Read plant tags to see if you’re purchasing a plant that requires deadheading.
Plant size: 12-18 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
Where to use: Evenly moist, well-drained soil with organic matter; full sun to light shade, especially during afternoon
Pansy & Viola
For a non-stop color show, include pansy and viola in your planting designs. These cheerful bloomers feature friendly flowers that appear all winter long in warm regions. Think of violas as a miniature pansy, with dainty blossoms and a smaller stature.
Look for pansy and viola blooms in any color you like, from solids, to bicolors, to watercolor blends. Petals may or may not have traditional whiskers and faces. Plants are typically clump forming, but new trailing types are available.
Plant size: Pansy – 4-10 inches tall, 9-12 inches wide; viola – 6-9 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
Where to use: Moist, well-drained soil that’s been enriched with organic matter; full sun to light shade
Snapdragon is a classic cottage garden flower, opening spikes of blooms with hinged petals that open and close like a dragon maw. Look for flowers in nearly every shade but true blue. Tall types are perfect for cutting.
Pinch seedlings at planting to promote branching. Staking tall types keeps stems straight. New heat-tolerant snapdragons continue flowering into spring and summer.
Plant size: Dwarf (8-12 inches tall, 6-8 inches wide), intermediate (12-24 inches tall, 8-10 inches wide), or tall (24-36 inches tall, 9-15 inches wide)
Where to use: Moist, well-drained soil with organic matter; full sun
A ground-hugging annual beauty, sweet alyssum forms mats of color with dainty blooms in shades of purple, white, pink and apricot. Fragrant flowers boast a honey scent; plants attract pollinators.
Sweet alyssum makes a great edging or front-of-the-border plant. It also thrives in rock gardens or tucked between flagstones. Avoid soggy soil, which kills plants.
Plant size: 4-9 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
Where to use: Well-drained, gritty soil; full sun; afternoon shade in hottest zones
Annuals for Heat
After cool weather fades but before summer starts to sizzle, replace spent cool-season annuals with annuals that can take the heat.
These heat-loving plants keep your landscape supplied with non-stop color as the mercury soars.